But it's not just that sort of cleaning I'm talking about. In my case, it's the cleaning off of my desk.
Last weekend I finished the very last bit of a book I have been working on for, er, ever. And during that time I didn't really clean off my desk. I even wrote another book in the middle of the all-encompassing one, amid the mess.
Now it's time to clean off the desk. It's a little sad (not very) because I have become used to the pictures I've tacked up on the bookshelves behind it. I've got used to reaching for the particular books and magazines and files that have helped me ground Lukas and Holly in their respective worlds. I have piles of notes and papers, many yellowing now with age, that I'm shoveling off the desk and into the wastebasket. And I will miss them, truly.
But, oh boy, I love the clean desk.
I love the space, the potential, the promise.
This is the point at which hope is springing eternal. It's the moment when everything can go right. I'm not yet frustrated by plot points that don't seem to fit, character motivations that are, well, fuzzy. I'm not tearing my hair and wondering if I'm going to be writing page 62 for the rest of my life.
No, I have a clean desk.
My mother would say that having a clean house is equally liberating. I have no doubt that she's right. But she never had to find homes for several thousand migratory books who don't have bookshelves to light on. She never had piles of paper that needed filing (she wisely threw it out. Or filed it so she could find it again). I don't doubt her. I'm just not like her.
But I love my clean desk.
This morning I opened up a new 'one note' book on my computer. I named it for a series of books I intend to work on next. Like my desk, it is pristine, unmarked. It's waiting for me to pull pictures and scraps and ideas into it.
And like a kid anticipating the first week of school, I'm sharpening literal and figurative new pencils, labeling folders and files, lining things up, ready to start.
I saw a robin this morning. The world is e. e. cummings mud-licious. The thermomenter reads are above freezing. The barest green tips of this spring's daffodils are just peeking out. Spring -- with all of its promise -- is finally coming.
And there is spring in my office at last. I have a clean desk!
1. By Bilboq (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
2. By Kunal.vicky (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
3, One Note, wikipedia.com
4. By Sujit kumar (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) via Wikimedia Commons
5. Kunal, ibid.